Health insurance for seniors

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A guide to health insurance for seniors

Updated 21 March, 2024
Written by Joshua Malin
Reviewed by Steven Spicer

Why take out health insurance for seniors?

Life is full of uncertainty. We can eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to stay in good health, but we still naturally become more susceptible to certain ailments as we age. Here are a few of the ways that private health insurance could benefit you as a senior.

  • An extras policy can help pay for expensive health products like hearing aids and dentures. These typically come with longer waiting periods, so consider taking out cover early.
  • When you’re treated through the private hospital system, you get a say in the available treating doctors and can stay in a private room when available. These comforts can make a big difference during your hospital stay.
  • Extras services like physiotherapy, chiropractic and massage could have you feeling better day to day, so you’re able to spend more time on what matters to you.

Choosing cover for seniors

The best health insurance for you will depend on several factors like your personal health needs and budget. However, here are a few things to keep in mind while you browse and compare health insurance policies.

  • Ambulance cover. Depending on your state of residence, you may need health insurance or a separate subscription to be covered for emergency ambulance services. Ambulance cover can be included on a variety of hospital and extras policies. There are also standalone ambulance subscriptions available in some states.
  • Type of cover. When it comes time to get health insurance, a big decision is which type of cover you want. You can get extras, hospital cover or both through a combined cover policy.
  • Extras limits. When you take out an extras cover policy, you will have some limits on the amount you can claim. These limits vary between insurers and policies, so make sure your extras limits suit your needs

Expert tips on choosing the right health insurance as a senior

Our health insurance expert, Steven Spicer, has some tips for seniors on how to find a health insurance policy that works for them.

Steven Spicer
Executive General Manager – Health, Life & Energy

Review your cover regularly as life changes

There may be many suitable policies out there for seniors. However, you should take the time to look at both the premiums and benefits available when deciding on the right option. It’s also wise to review your cover on a regular basis (e.g. annually) to make sure that it still suits your needs as you get older.

Carefully consider your level of cover

Procedures like knee replacements or cataracts removal are usually only covered by the more expensive, top-tier policies (i.e. Gold level). Fortunately, there are many health funds that offer Silver Plus policies, which can often include coverage for these surgeries as well as excluding services you no longer need, such as obstetrics.

Tailor your excess to match your needs

Is it likely you’ll need surgery in the coming years? While you might pay a bit more in premiums in exchange, it may be best to look at policies with a lower excess. It could save you money in the long run if you don’t have to make such a large payment when you enter hospital. You can always increase your excess in the future to pay less in premiums instead, but you’ll need to pay this higher excess at the time that you claim.

What is health insurance for seniors?

While there’s no insurance product called ‘seniors’ health insurance’, some health insurance providers will offer cover specifically designed for older Australians. These policies are tailored to the healthcare needs of seniors, although the right policy for you will ultimately depend on your personal health and financial situation.

Health insurance for seniors can include hospitalextras and combined cover policies for both singles and couples. Extras insurance covers you for treatment outside of hospital that isn’t covered by Medicare, while private hospital insurance pays a benefit towards private inpatient treatments in a public or private hospital that are listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). Both types of health insurance have benefits you might want to take advantage of as you age, so you may want to get a combined cover policy.

What you’re covered for

What does health insurance for seniors cover?

Hospital cover

Extras cover

What isn’t covered by health insurance that might affect seniors?

Medicare vs private health insurance

What they cover

What Medicare doesn’t pay for

Public waiting lists

Cost of health insurance for seniors

How much can health insurance cost for seniors?

Does it cost more for seniors to get covered?

Additional costs to keep in mind

More information

Waiting periods

Pre-existing conditions

Meet our health insurance expert, Steven Spicer

Steven Spicer
Executive General Manager – Health, Life & Energy

As the Executive General Manager of Health, Life and Energy, Steven Spicer is a strong believer in the benefits of private cover and knows just how valuable the peace of mind that comes with cover can be. He is passionate about demystifying the health insurance industry and advocates for the benefits of comparison when it comes to saving money on your premiums.

1 Elective surgery. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australian Government. 2022. Accessed March 2023.
2 Private health Ombudsman. Exclusions and restrictions. Accessed March 2023.
3 Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Private Health Insurance Rebate. Accessed March 2023.